Saturday, April 02, 2005

Biblical Prophesy Following the Exile of the Hebrews from Babylon

Biblical Prophesy Following the Exile of the Hebrews from Babylon. This essay is by Nathan Cooper. It has the look and feel of a student class paper but it is a worthwhile read.

From the site:

Before the Babylonian exile, Biblical prophesy reached its highest point. Prophets such as Jeremiah and Ezekiel changed and molded the scope of Israelite religion. Their writings were intelligent, insightful, well developed, and contained a great spiritual meaning. Following the Babylonian exile, however, prophesy took a depressing downward turn. There are many post exile prophets, yet their writings are usually short, mostly irrelevant, repetitive, and, for the most part, anonymous.

Though this is the case for many of these prophets, their works cannot be overlooked. Haggai and Zechariah were leaders in the cultic reform of the Israelite people. Malachai calmed their fears, and assured them of God's love. Still other prophets told of a new, Messianic time when the word of the Lord would be held in its former glory. These were the most important works, as post exile Israel needed not only protection, but spiritual guidance to sustain their society.

The prophet Haggai was in integral figure in uniting the Israelite people. Upon return to their homeland, the Israelites found most of the infrastructure in a state of disrepair, with the people uncaring for their moral and social responsibilities, to say nothing for their religious practices. (OVC) Even the temple of the Lord had been destroyed. Haggai emphasized the return to a more cultic society. Through Haggai, God explained the plight of the Israelite people, as in Haggai 1:6: "You have sown much, but harvested little; you eat, but there is not enough to be satisfied; you put on clothing, but no one is warm enough... Why? Because of My house which lies desolate while each of you runs to his own house." (Haggai 1:9) The word of Haggai is accepted as the word of God, and the temple is rebuilt in less than four years. "I am with you," said the Lord,in Haggai 1:13 when the temple was finally built.

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